November 27th, 2016: Seeing The Other Side of the “Rock Stars”.

Image result for rock starsIt’s no big secret that “rock stars” sometimes portray something that they aren’t when performing on stage or when in certain settings. Let’s take Alice Cooper for example. On stage he’s a madman. Stabbing baby dolls, killing nurses, you name it. Off stage, he’s a very funny, kindhearted man who takes time out to talk to his fans and even enjoy a game of golf when he can. Other rock stars of various levels can also prove to be different than what they seem to be both in good and bad ways. When I attended a recent show by the band Trivium last month, (I was actually there to see Sabaton), I was told by my contributing writer that he witnessed something that really put a bad taste in his mouth. My writer had arrived at the show quite early with hopes of meeting members of Sabaton as he is a huge fan. He told me that while he and a few others waited outside, members of Sabaton came out and engaged with their fans, signed things, took photos and were generally just very humble and appreciative. As for the members of Trivium… that’s a whole other story.

My buddy told me that there were a handful of Trivium fans who were there really early with hopes of meeting them. The band came walking through the parking lot towards their tour bus and when the fans approached them, they literally fanned them off with their hands and just kept walking, got on their bus and that was that. At one point, some of them even came back outside and didn’t even acknowledge these people. I get it though. Maybe they were busy. Maybe they had some important band meeting to attend. Maybe they had some groupies waiting for them on the bus to polish their knobs. Whatever the reason was, to just completely brush your fans off like their homeless people begging for change is absolutely ridiculous and uncalled for. These people paid their hard earned money, took time off of work, and drove from only God knows where to see your shitty fucking band and THIS is how you show your gratitude? Trivium, I hope you all are reading this because from what I can see, you guys really aren’t on the fast track to megastardom so you derps should be shaking every hand and thanking every fan that they award your the opportunity to do this for a living, living on a swank tour bus, and not having to work a day gig.

Unfortunately, I feel like I have seen this side of the “rock stars” way more than I’d care to see. Just recently, Henry Rollins was here on one of his awesome spoken word tours and for like an extra hundred and something bucks, you could stick around after the show for a Q&A with him. This was really disappointing to me because Rollins was always the kind of guy who would come out after a show and shoot the shit with his fans and really connect with them. Now, it’s like he’s hopped on the KISS Express and figured out that he could make a fair amount of bank charging people to meet him… but this isn’t the issue. The issue I had is that the fans who couldn’t afford to pay that price and hung out for hours after show with hopes of meeting him were turned away by his tour manager saying, “Legally, he can’t meet with you all so sorry.”  Legally he can’t meet his fans or is it that ol’ Hank just chooses to meet the ones that shell out the extra cash to meet them?

While this is a total bummer, there are always going to be instances where bands will just re-affirm to me that there are still bands out there who truly love their fans.  On that same say where Trivium just seemed to be way too busy to talk to their diehard fans, every member of Sabaton (sans their vocalist who was sick) took the time to come off the bus, meet with fans, take photos, etc.  The Sabaton guys even took the time to talk to those same Trivium fans who got blown off.  Another great example is how I recently hung out with Electric Citizen and Horisont when they were here in Atlanta.  All through the night, members of both bands made themselves completely available to hang out, take photos, sign stuff, etc.  It really was so cool to see this and it’s a sight that never gets old to me.

I love nothing more than seeing bands take the time out to talk and meet their fans.  By doing so, these bands are showing their appreciation to their fans for giving them the very life that they love and live.  The fans are who pay for Trivium’s tour bus, pay their bills, and allow them the luxury of doing this for a living.  Taking 5 minutes out of their day to talk with those kids and take a few photos would’ve made their day but they just brushed them off like cockroaches.  Then to see this same band get up on stage and talk about how much their fans mean to them just added salt to the wound and came across as sincere as a Christmas card from King Diamond.

Again, this is just one of the many observations I have made from the inside that I am glad that I can share with my readers.  So for all of you reading this, don’t sell yourselves short.  If a band that you love treats you like shit, call them out on it and let the world know all about it.

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The Vulnerability of the Interview

One of the things I love doing the most for The Great Southern Brainfart is conducting interviews. I absolutely love it. I remember back in my wee teen years watching Riki Rachtman on Headbanger’s Ball and love him or hate him, the dude was amazing at his job. Why? Because he wasn’t just some clueless press person sticking a mic in people’s faces and asking them the same tired questions. What I always loved about Riki was that his connection with these bands seemed to go far beyond the camera. He was a fan and when it came time to do an interview, Riki would make them fun, silly, and truly interesting conversations. When it came time to do interviews myself, I remembered how much I loved his style and I decided that this was how I was going to do things.

In all honesty, of all the interviews I have done since starting this thing in 2009, I have had two bad interviews. That’s not a bad fucking track record. For the most part, when I interview bands, it’s always different. Sometimes it’s business as usual, 20 minutes in and out thanks a lot good-bye but there are a lot of times where a pretty magical connection is made between myself and the person I am interviewing. I know it sounds crazy but it truly is a magical feeling when I feel like I can get these amazing artists into this vulnerable state where they feel like they can open up to me without fear. It’s like something I could never imagine.

This post was inspired because of a few interview instances that I have had that were similar to this. The first time I can remember this happening was back in 2010 when I interviewed former Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover. I had spent a few days watching interviews with this guy and didn’t seem to be all that talkative and seemed to at times look annoyed at the questions that were being asked. I made sure I came up with some fun questions and when I sat down with him, his body language said so much. He sat in a chair, legs crossed, and arms folded and by the time the interview was ending, he was leaning forward in his chair and laughing with me. He went on to tell me that it was one of his favorite interviews and that he had a really great time. That was when I knew I was on my way.

Another very memorable instance was when I interviewed Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. I was told by management that I had 15 minutes, no more. I waited in the room and Jordan came in and introduced himself to me. At the time, Mike Mangini had just joined the band as their new drummer and every interview I watched with Jordan, the interviewers asked more questions about what it was like to play with Mangini. I started my interview off by telling Jordan that while I knew Mangini was a great drummer, this interview was about him. He just smiled and said, “Thank you so much.” We talked about his solo projects, his state of the art music apps and all of the sudden our 15 minutes were up. The manager came in to get me and Jordan told him, “It’s ok. I’m having fun with this one.” The interview went on to last for nearly 50 minutes. It felt so good to see him enjoying it so much and he even went as far as to send me an email a few weeks later thanking me for such a great interview.

Most recently I had similar experiences with two of my absolutely favorite metal icons: Jorn Lande and Steve “Lips” Kudlow from Anvil. When I was interviewing Jorn via the telephone, he was such a gracious guy but I could tell that he had so much to say. In the interviews that I had been reading, interviewers seemed to just graze the surface and never really try to go much deeper. I decided that I would attempt to try and get him to open up a bit more regarding his relationship with Ronnie James Dio and with the members of Sabbath after Dio’s passing. He really opened up and even told me that he had never told anyone these things before. Lips from Anvil said the same thing to me after our interview. He told me that he felt like he might even be telling me too much but I just assured him that I wasn’t in this to get incriminating things from him but for him to just open up, even if it would be about stuff that I wouldn’t print.

I constantly strive to be better at what I do so when I have these experiences they just re-assure me that I’m in a good place with what I’m doing. Seeing these people open up to me and allow me into their personal experiences just for a short amount of time is something that I will never take for granted. It’s something that makes me want to continue to grow and it’s something that makes me never want to stop doing this… ever.

Typos and Shitty Grammar. Why?

One of my absolute favorite things to do for The Great Southern Brainfart is to do interviews.  I fucking LOVE getting to connect and converse with some of my favorite bands/musicians.  You know what my least favorite thing to do is?  TRANSCRIBE.  That’s right.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely loved the fact that my most recent interview with Jorn Lande lasted for about 55 minutes but just to give you an idea, normally, a 20 minute interview takes about 45 minutes to to transcribe verbatim.  So imagine when it’s an interview that has lasted an hour?

Ok, so I know I sound like I’m bitching and I kind of am but in all honesty, I fucking love it.  Going back and listening to an interview word for word can be a pretty fucking surreal experience.  Even though it can be a bit tedious, it’s an amazing thing nonetheless to hear the voice of the person that I just talked to.  Going back and listening to the voices of people like Axel Rudi Pell, Vinny Appice, CJ Ramone, and Dennis Dunaway just to name a few is such a cool thing and serves as a reminder to me as to just how fucking lucky I am.  I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to talk with some of my favorite musicians and some very influential artists.  I have had some amazing conversations with them and each of them, some better than others but regardless of how amazing they all are, the task if transcribing them can be a task that I sometimes dread.

How do I get through this you may ask?  Well, this is a perfect example of how a change of scene is always best.  If I’m just hanging at home and trying to get my transcriptions done, I will find every excuse to NOT transcribe.  My desk needs dusting.  Oh, look, gotta go do dishes.  Oh man, I better go play with my dog out in the backyard.  So to get past this, I usually find my way to the local coffee house (Kavarna or Joe’s respectively), get a cup of coffee and get into the zone.  Once I’m in that zone, I usually find it hard to stop.  Then, once I have finished an interview, I then have to go back and read it, edit it for conciseness, try and catch as many grammar/spelling mistakes as I can and then post it.  THAT right there folks is the secret behind the “Typos and Shitty Grammar” of the Great Southern Brainfart.

So when you do catch a a grammatical error or a spelling error, it’s not because I don’t care.  In all honesty, I really do and sometimes there’s even a level of embarrassment that goes along with it but much like you, my loyal Farthead readers, I have just grown to embrace it and know that it’s just something that happens.  Maybe someday I will have an editor who can make it all perfect for me or maybe one day I’ll just start slowing the fuck down and paying more attention to what I’m writing but until then, this is what you get and trust me, I strive to give you all the best that I can.  Not the best grammar, not the best punctuation, and not the best spelling.  I strive to give you the best hard rock/metal content that I can give you.  I strive to entertain you all and I strive to make you all happy.  If I have done those things, then, in my opinion, I have done well and all the rest is just bullshit.

 

May 19, 2016: 37 Main Leads To… SKID ROW!

After a really great interview with Jorn Lande it was time for me to get ready to hit the road to cover the Skid Row show.  After the deBACHle of the previous week’s Sebastian Bach show (read about it here), I was just a tad worried that I would run into problems at the venue.  In a nutshell, Sebastian and I shared a war of words on Facebook that turned pretty fucking ugly and had him saying, and I quote, “…you are an asshole. At least now I know. and I will tell every band I know to keep you off the fucking list of every show that you ever want to get into.”  Well, being that he had just played at this venue I figured the promoter would make my life hell getting in.  On the contrary.  He came up to me and gave me a handshake, welcomed me, and said, “Hey, is that Sebastian Bach that just pulled in?”  This made me do a double take which gave us both a hefty chuckle.  Well, at least he got it and I made my way to will call where, to my delight was two All Access laminates to get me and my buddy Jacob backstage for the show.  Not a bad way to roll at all.

Rewind back to 1988 when my bedroom walls were pretty much covered with Skid Row posters and pinups, I would have never even dreamed that this would be a reality.  I made my way backstage and was greeted by hugs by my good buddy Rob.  I had a great conversation with the new vocalist, ZP Theart, and Scotti, Snake, and Rachel all came up to me for hugs, laughs, and conversation.  There’s something really amazing feeling when a band that you’ve loved since you were a kid now know you by name and welcome you into their “family” circle.  That is a feeling that never gets old.  After having a beer with the boys, Jacob and I made our way back to the main room where Skid Row proceeded to kick our asses, melt our faces, and just flat out rock the fuck out of the place.  As I stood there taking the show in, again, I just thought to myself, “I’m the luckiest motherfucker in the world.”

After the show, we dipped backstage again to congratulate the band on a stellar show, share a few more laughs and then I headed home.  On the way home, I was still feeling pumped and feeling so good about it.  This was the kind of review that was going to write itself and I couldn’t wait to get home and write it.  All in all, it was a pretty magical fucking night and another moment where I felt so proud to be fan of a band.

May 19, 2016: A Conversation with Jorn Lande

One of the things people tend to ask me is how I prepare for interviews.  Prepping for interviews can be a really intense amount of work.  One of the things I try to do when prepping for interviews is to hit the Googles and start tracking down every interview I can find with the artist that I am about to speak with.  From there, I start to see what questions get asked a lot and decide to not even ask those questions.

My interview today with Jorn Lande was one that I was a bit nervous about because I am such a huge fan of his.  I was also a bit nervous because there aren’t a whole lot of US interviews done with this guy so I really had to go into this with questions that I, myself, wanted answered.  Jorn was such a great guy to talk to and our interview really ended up being more of a conversation.  He was VERY talkative which was fucking awesome.  He definitely seemed engaged and seemed to have a good time even answering my silly questions.  I never really know how it’s going to go when I ask those questions but I’d say that 95% of the time they seem to enjoy them.

This interview with Jorn was such a great one and what was supposed to be a 30 min interview turned into a one hour long chat.  It’s times like that where I feel like I must be doing it right if the artist is that engaged that he’she just wants to keep talking.  After this conversation I had a whole new respect for Jorn and even found myself an even bigger fan than I was before our talk.  I love it when that happens.

May 14, 2016: Person to Purson

The Purson show was so much fun.  I really enjoyed seeing them live once again.  Once I got to the venue, it was a logisticaly nightmare.  Nobody really seemed to know who was playing in what room but once I figured out that Purson was in the Loft, I was ok.  Once again, my name wasn’t on the guest list.  This happens from time to time which is why I always ask for an onsite tour manager contact.  I contacted their tour manager and he was as sweet as could be.  He came right over to will call and escorted me to the Loft.

I was supposed to have an 11pm interview but things were running behind and it didn’t look like it was going to happen.  Rosie (Cunningham; Purson lead singer/guitarist) came up to me and gave me the biggest hug.  She apologized for running late and asked if we could do it post set.  I of course obliged and went and took my place up front for the show.  This kind of thing isn’t a rare occurrence in my world.  As a matter of fact, with the exception of phone interviews, interviews almost never happy on time or with who you were told you’d be interviewing.  It’s ok though because I’ve totally learned to just roll with it.

After the show, Purson came out and met all the fans, took, pix, signed things and just seemed so happy to be meeting their Atlanta fans.  Afterwards, Rosie and Sam took me backstage and we actually didn’t even do the interview.  We were having such a good time just talking and having a conversation that we just didn’t even care to interview.  I was totally fine with this because it’s a great feeling to know that they connected with me so well the last time we met that we just got to hang out as friends.  It was a great time and lots of laughs and beers were drank.  Drunk?  Drunken?  Whatever.  We drank a lot of beer.

It was a really fun night and a reminder of just why I love to do what I do.

So Here it Begins

I have been running The Great Southern Brainfart now since 2009.  One of the things I realized that never did (even when my wife said a long time ago that I should) was to document my personal experiences as a metal blogger.  Yeah, I have the blog and I have my reviews and interviews but I have never really documented my personal, social experiences at the shows.  What it was like hanging with the bands, with other fans, and my personal thoughts that I don’t always get to share on the blog.

My friend and fellow reader, Taylor, has been doing something similar and she inspired me to re-visit this idea and to finally put it into motion.  Again, I credit my wife for the initial idea about this but maybe it’s just that the time wasn’t right or something.  Either way, I hope whoever reads this will enjoy it.

So here it begins…